Expat Living and Real EstateJulie WhitmarshLiving in Provence

Buying a Home in Provence and L’Art de la Rencontre

By Vaucluse Dreamer:

Yesterday Andy and I sat in the Artisan Bakery on The Quay in Exeter, raising a cup of coffee to celebrate the 3 years since we signed the papers and picked up the keys to our long-dreamed-for house in Provence.

Of course we would have rather been in France, sitting in one of our favourite boulangeries doing the same, but this year family (and jewellery) commitments have meant that it wasn’t possible, so we settled for our local version The Boatyard Bakery and spent an hour chatting about what has really made the last three  years so special.

Buying a Home in Provence

A house purchase anywhere is a big financial decision. When the Whitmarsh family decided to buy a home in France, it fulfilled a long-held dream. However, it was also a roll of the dice. At that stage, they still had two children in school in the United Kingdom, and they were both engaged in work activities. Looking back (after 3 years) they acknowledge the crazy schedule that the family maintained, but certainly, do not regret the purchase. Read: Planes, Trains, Cars & Bikes.

The Whitmarsh house hunt and the eventual purchase was not without a few wrinkles. There was a false start, but a happy ending. So, buyer beware! The house sales market in France is not as transparent as in other parts of the world. Important points to consider when buying real estate in Provence. Before actually embarking on the adventure of buying a home abroad, you’ll inevitably have many questions.

  • Are there any restrictions on buying in France for non-EU citizens?
  • Can I afford a sea view with my budget?
  • I would like a typical Provençal village with year-round activity. Which is the best one?
  • Where do I find the central database or listing portal for all properties for sale?
  • What is the market looking like on the Côte d’Azur? Are prices going up?
  • Where do I find the prices of properties that have been sold?

Continue reading here for other points of consideration when buying a home in France.

House Renovation in Provence

Julie, Andy and the boys wisely chose to live in their new home for a while, and in different seasons. This time allowed them to understand how they use the house. What rooms they gravitate too, and what they can’t live without in the house. It turns out a door to their bedroom was high on the must-have list.

There are three components to every renovation; schedule, budget, and scope of work. The scope drives the project and the outcome. In this case, Julie and family mapped out what was critical for the success of their renovation. They saved a lot of money by finding items (doors, dressers, hardware and other things) at brocantes, and vide greniers.

Selecting a design/architectural and construction team is a critical step. Acting on advice from friends, the Whitmarsh family found a contractor.

Making Friends in Provence

Having a base is a good start for living in Provence (or anywhere), but building a social circle is critical to feeling like you belong. They met Marina Depoorter through their neighbour. What began as Andy’s desire to improve his French language skills has blossomed into a strong friendship. Marina is based in Viens, which a solid hill climb on a bicycle from the Whitmarsh house. However, she offers all sorts of flexible options for French lessons at your own pace, including cooking classes.

…Continue reading here for this contributor blog post by Vaucluse Dreamer



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Julie Whitmarsh

Julie and her husband Andy started visiting the Vaucluse area 25 years ago & over the years have increased the amount of time they spend there with their growing family. She has a deep affection for the area, finding it is a great place to visit, where the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.

She longs for the day when she can ‘up-sticks’ from her home on Dartmoor & relocate to the Luberon and spend her days cycling, walking, visiting markets & brocante fairs and of course enjoying the local food and drink.

Her blog VaucluseDreamer gives her a space to highlight some of her favourite things about the area from places to visit to particular activities that she and her family all enjoy.

She hopes one day it will be a place where she can share the process of renovating a house in France, but at the moment that will have to wait.

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